Home News 10 key things to know ahead of Nottingham Forest vs. Liverpool

10 key things to know ahead of Nottingham Forest vs. Liverpool

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Liverpool can temporarily go four points clear at the top of the Premier League with a win at Nottingham Forest on Saturday, but it’s another big ask for a depleted squad to go again.

Nottingham Forest vs. Liverpool

Premier League (27) | The City Ground
March 2, 2024 | 3pm (GMT)

The Reds’ youngsters were the talk of the town again on Wednesday, playing a pivotal part in the 3-0 win over Southampton in the FA Cup fifth round.

Attention now returns to Premier League commitments, with the trip to Forest this weekend representing a must-win game in the title battle.

Here’s all you need to know ahead of the match.

 

1. Reds out to avoid a repeat of last season

NOTTINGHAM, ENGLAND - Saturday, October 22, 2022: Liverpool's Virgil van Dijk (C) and captain Jordan Henderson (L) look dejected after a missed chance during the FA Premier League match between Nottingham Forest FC and Liverpool FC at the City Ground. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Last season was disappointing for so many reasons and Liverpool’s 1-0 defeat away to Forest was indicative of their struggles.

A repeat of that lackadaisical loss has to be avoided on Saturday, with Man City and Arsenal continuing to stay on the heels of the Reds.

Liverpool have the incentive of knowing that victory would put them four points clear at the top, with City hosting Man United on Sunday, and the Gunners at Sheffield United on Monday.

The Merseysiders are hurdling every obstacle that comes their way and this is another that could prove trickier than some think.

 

2. Forest battling for Premier League survival

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, October 29, 2023: Liverpool's Alexis Mac Allister (R) is challenged by Nottingham Forest's Anthony Elanga during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Nottingham Forest FC at Anfield. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Forest have experienced a season of change, with the popular Steve Cooper eventually taking the team as far as he could.

He was replaced by Nuno Espirito Santo back in December and the former Wolves and Tottenham manager has won five of his first 14 matches in charge, which is a solid return.

The Midlands outfit are in 17th place and only four points ahead of Luton, who have a game in hand on Nuno’s men.

There is also the threat of a six-point deduction for financial breaches, much in the same vein as Everton.

That highlights the importance of Saturday’s game for Forest, who will be desperately avoiding a relatively swift return to the Championship.

 

3. Who’s injured for Liverpool?

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Wednesday, September 20, 2023: Liverpool's Mohamed Salah during a training session at the AXA Training Centre ahead of the UEFA Europa League Group E match between LASK and Liverpool FC. (Pic by Andrew Yeats/Propaganda)

There are a few small signs of Liverpool’s injury woes easing ahead of the weekend action – something that has to happen if the Reds are to excel in all competitions until May.

Dominik Szoboszlai and Darwin Nunez should return to the matchday squad at Forest, acting as a big boost, but Mohamed Salah is still unavailable.

Andy Robertson and Wataru Endo returned to training on Friday, having been nursing issues beforehand.

Alisson, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Curtis Jones and Diogo Jota are among the key players who are out, however, joining the likes of Ryan Gravenberch, Joel Matip, Thiago and Ben Doak in the treatment room.

 

4. Potential Liverpool XI

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Wednesday, February 21, 2024: Liverpool's Luis Díaz (R) celebrates with team-mate captain Virgil van Dijk after scoring the third goal during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Luton Town FC at Anfield. Liverpool won 4-1. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

It looks easy enough to predict a chunk of Liverpool’s starting lineup on Saturday, but so much may depend on the availability of the names mentioned above.

Caoimhin Kelleher is in outstanding form and will continue in goal, while Conor Bradley, Ibrahima Konate, Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez could make up the defence.

Alexis Mac Allister is a certainty to start in midfield, while Luis Diaz and Cody Gakpo will surely be in attack, too.

Whether Klopp feels he can start Endo, Szoboszlai or Nunez remains to be seen, but if he is cautious with them, a youngster such as Bobby Clark or James McConnell could be drafted in.

Predicted Liverpool XI: Kelleher; Bradley, Konate, Van Dijk, Gomez; Endo, Mac Allister, Clark; Elliott, Diaz, Gakpo.

 

5. Players to watch for Forest

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - Saturday, September 23, 2023: Nottingham Forest's Morgan Gibbs-White during the FA Premier League match between Manchester City FC and Nottingham Forest FC at the City of Manchester Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

There is a strong former Liverpool contingent at Forest currently, with Neco Williams and Divock Origi both important members of the squad.

Neither are necessarily key men at the moment, though, and a few players are more important than the impressive Morgan Gibbs-White.

The 24-year-old, who won the Under-17s World Cup with England back in 2017, alongside Phil Foden and Jadon Sancho, has three goals and four assists from midfield this season.

Another ex-Red, Awoniyi, has netted six times, while Chris Wood is their top league goalscorer with eight, and his physicality will be a threat.

 

6. Klopp makes Luke Littler admission

Speaking to reporters on Friday, Klopp admitted regrets about comparing his young players to teenage darts sensation Luke Littler:

“I would like to eat the words that I mentioned that night [Wednesday], I gave, again, an assist, to some people to understand the wrong way. It’s my fault.

“Of course, nobody is Luke Littler. It’s just in general. What could disturb a career for a very young prospect is, one part of, what the public make of it.

“It’s wonderful, they deserve it. You cannot live on the planet if you don’t see how special the story was, but now the next challenge is how to deal with all the things coming up.

“These boys are fantastic in that department, really down to earth, grounded. I don’t think it was necessary to mention that night but I did, so my fault.”

 

7. Liverpool’s poor record at the City Ground

NOTTINGHAM, ENGLAND - Saturday, October 22, 2022: Liverpool's goalkeeper Alisson Becker looks dejected as Nottingham Forest score the first goal during the FA Premier League match between Nottingham Forest FC and Liverpool FC at the City Ground. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Liverpool may not have travelled to the City Ground much in recent years, but it is a ground they have struggled at.

In the Premier League era, the Reds have made the trip there seven times, but they have only tasted victory there once.

That was in the FA Cup quarter-finals two years ago when a Jota goal separated the two sides, but even then, they were arguably lucky to win.

They have lost on three occasions, all of which were 1-0 defeats in the league (1992, 1996 and 2022), with ex-Red Awoniyi scoring the only goal last season.

 

8. Did You Know?

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Wednesday, February 21, 2024: Liverpool's Harvey Elliott celebrates after scoring the fourth goal during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Luton Town FC at Anfield. Liverpool won 4-1. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The difference between Liverpool last season and this time around is vast, with the midfield rebuild helping transform an ailing side.

If the Reds win at Forest this weekend, it will be their 19th Premier League victory of the season, coming in their 27th game.

Incredibly, that will mean they have matched Liverpool’s tally for the whole of last season, when they only prevailed in exactly half of their league outings.

The progress that has been made since last summer shouldn’t be taken for granted.

 

9. Oh no, it’s Tierney!

BURNLEY, ENGLAND - Tuesday, December 26, 2023: Referee Paul Tierney during the FA Premier League match between Burnley FC and Liverpool FC at Turf Moor. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Of all the referees that Klopp has little time for, Paul Tierney surely stands out the most.

The 43-year-old will take charge of Saturday’s game at the City Ground, which will likely be giving the Liverpool manager sleepless nights after so many poor decisions against his side.

Stuart Attwell is on VAR, Richard West and Scott Ledger are the assistant referees, and Graham Scott is the fourth official.

 

10. Follow the match with TIA

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Wednesday, February 28, 2024: Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp celebrates his side's 3-0 victory during the FA Cup 5th Round match between Liverpool FC and Southampton FC at Anfield. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Nottingham Forest vs. Liverpool isn’t live on UK television, due to it being a Saturday 3pm (UK) kickoff, so you know where the best place to follow the action is!

TIA’s matchday live blog will be in full swing from 2.15pm, with Harry McMullen keeping you up-to-date will all the action.

Come on you Reds!